In wake of school-trip disappointment, one student teacher finds a way to bring Windsor Castle to his locked-down pupils

If the children cannot go to Windsor, then Windsor must come to the children, Kristian Greenslade decided, to the excitement of his young pupils.

Delighted to have been admitted to the Institute of Education (IoE) at the University of Reading to study BA Primary Education, Kristian describes his feelings as ‘super-excited’. Yet soon after his course began, the young trainee teacher was plunged into a world crisis. As the Covid pandemic unfolded, even qualified, experienced teachers faced immense challenges. Everyone was learning new ways of teaching in classrooms and online while looking after the mental and physical health of themselves and their pupils.

Pre-pandemic, one of Kristian’s school’s biggest plans had been to take the Year One pupils on a trip to historic St George’s Chapel, Windsor, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married. Kristian’s pupils, all aged between five and six, were excited about visiting the Castle they had seen on television and in pictures. They had been learning all about its history, drama and current events. But then came the pandemic and the world shut down. The children were devastated.

Kristian had to think fast and find a way to transform his pupils’ disappointment into excitement. He talked to his wife Angelli, who is a talented hobby artist. Together, they came up with a brilliant way to show the wonder of Windsor Castle without being there in person.

They created a beautiful, metre-long model of the Chapel.

“I think for children who are five or six years old, learning about facts, dates and churches can be overwhelming. Some might just switch off. So I had the idea of giving them something visual and physical to see and be excited about, in place of their trip.”

By viewing all aspects of the Chapel online, Kristian and Angelli recreated the architecture of the chapel using recycled cardboard boxes, masking tape and a hot glue gun. They finished it off with acrylic paints, creating an effect that is startlingly good.

“I was so pleased to bring it in for the children. It introduced St. George’s Chapel to them, which was something really exciting during lockdown. Due to the pandemic, these children had not been able to enjoy the normal visits that would fire up their imagination and inspire their learning.

“There were other years doing the same topics and I was very happy that their teachers asked to use the model. All the key stage one kids got to enjoy it in the end.

“Kids absorb things in a cool kind of visual way. Having that taken away from them by lockdown was really sad. I thought it was important to give them something physical to examine and explore. Engaging the children means their minds absorb concepts naturally and enthusiastically.”

We have all read about the psychological effect of lockdown on children, which can be even harder for those with added challenges.

“With something like this model, kids who find it hard to engage; who maybe have a learning difficulty; handling and seeing the model draws them in more. Also, my class has a high number of children with English as an additional language, and I think the model helped them understand more easily.

“The children would go up to the model continually, wanting to look at it and see what was going on, even in their break or after school, even the shy ones. When you see that reaction – well, that’s why I am in the field of teaching!

“This year has been very strange because of the pandemic. But for me, in terms of learning, it has also been a very good year; in fact it’s been so fulfilling and I’ve felt so supported by the University, that I can’t wait for next year. And that’s a great feeling!”

A new book on Teaching the Arts is coming soon with contributions from several IoE authors

We are delighted that Suzy Tutchell and Susan Ogier have co-edited Teaching the Arts in the Primary Curriculum.

This comes out May 2021 and is published by SAGE.

Teaching the Arts in the Primary Curriculum features chapters by Stephanie Sharp, Scarlett Murphy and Ali Silby (Poetry and the Arts), Rebecca Berkley (Music and the Arts) and Nasreen Majid (Maths and the Arts) also of the IoE. 

It brings Arts Education sharply into focus as a meaningful, learning experience for children of pre-school and primary age (3-11 years).  Based on many researched case studies, it reinforces the potential for the wide range of physical, mental and emotional development, through learning opportunities that engagement in arts practice facilitates.

It also provides an insight into how by providing spaces in the curriculum for children to engage in the arts, teachers can support children to consider contemporary challenges that face their generation.

Click here for more on Teaching Arts in the Primary Curriculum 

 

7th in the UK for Education (The Guardian University Guide 2021)

We are delighted to announce that we have been ranked 7th in the UK for Education (The Guardian University Guide 2021).

The Guardian ranks universities through looking at eight different elements. This includes what students say about their teaching, feedback and the course itself in the annual National Student Survey (NSS). It also looks at the sizes of classes through the student-to-staff ratio and how much universities spend on teaching per student, as well as students’ A-level grades, whether their academic performance improves at university (the value-added score), and how likely they’ll be to continue with their course. This year they’ve also added new data on how many students get graduate jobs or go on to further study 15 months after leaving university.

More info on how the scores are conceived can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/sep/05/how-to-use-the-guardian-university-guide-2021

Professor Carol Fuller the new Head of School commented:

“Whilst rankings can only tell us so much, it is a clear and evident indication that the students on our courses are happy students who enjoy the experiences they have with us. It is also testament to the excellent team of academics we have, who work hard to ensure a good experience.”

A more detailed breakdown of the statistics can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/education/ng-interactive/2020/sep/05/the-best-uk-universities-2021-league-table

Virtual placements for students with special educational needs during COVID-19

Dr Yota Dimitriadi , Subject Leader for the PGCE Secondary Computer Science, along with the PGCE Secondary Computer Science students recently created an online escape room comprising of a set of six lessons. These lessons with supporting videos, interactive games and classroom activities were specifically designed to help a wide range of students with special educational needs, particularly students from The Addington School whose work placements were disrupted due to COVID-19.

The project was part of the Google Education Professional Development Award on supporting cyber awareness for students from special schools to support their transition into the workplace.

The lessons are designed for both ‘in classroom’ and distance learning approaches with a range of scaffolding options that teachers can use to tailor the lessons to their specific students. All the games are available online on the cospace.io platform and have been tested on iMac, PC and iPad devices.

Whilst designed as an integrated series of lessons and activities, teachers may also consider using lessons individually to meet a specific learning objective. Further, access to the original project documentation and code is available through Yota Dimitriadi. 

The project has been a collaboration between the University of Reading, Institute of Education Secondary Computer Science students and The Addington School, Wokingham, made possible by funding and support from the Berkshire Branch of the British Computer Society and Google Education.

Project team:

University of Reading:

Yota Dimitriadi

Emma Harwood

John Mercer

Paul Palmer

Luke Ryall

Jenny Ellis

with support from Adrian Earle, Head of Dept, Furze Platt School

Addington School:

Danny Blatchford

Kelly Chapman

Abi Storey

BA Primary Education with Art Y3 Online Exhibition

By the final summer term, the Y3 art specialists have completed their final placement, assignments and dissertations, and have five full weeks of studio practice leading up to an end of degree exhibition. This exhibition is the culmination of three years of hard work and committed visual research, which is celebrated by friends, families, IoE tutors, the wider university and local community on London Road Campus. With the onset of COVID-19, a term of contemporary, practical and innovative practice had to be re-imagined and transformed into a digital format.

Suzy Tutchell Lecturer in BA Primary Education with Art, said:

“We were determined to create an adapted final ‘practical’ module which would celebrate who the students had become as artist-teachers and ensure the quality of teaching and learning would be intact. It was essential to retain their creative enthusiasm and drive, so that what they would produce online would be testament to their maturing identities and could still be celebrated by viewers, as it would have been in the studio.”

To that end, an alternative term was devised which comprised of online interactive group sessions, small group supervisory tutorials, paired and group critiques and digital sharing via a new website platform. All students and staff set about creating their own online portfolios, which served as a platform to document and exhibit work that was ongoing, as well as the process of making and creating the final virtual exhibition. Some students even tackled the subject of COVID-19 directly in their work, focussing on our environment and natural art forms.

A selection of the portfolios, will also feature on the National Society for Education in Art and Design website, modelling excellent practice for other university art/education departments; this continues to position us as a flagship of excellent art and education practice at national level.

The student’s final sites can be viewed below:

Elisha Harrington: https://www.bulbapp.com/elishajasmine

Esme Weston: https://www.bulbapp.com/thegingerartist

Molly Waring: https://www.bulbapp.com/mollywaring

Freya Lane: https://www.bulbapp.com/freyfrey3

Aaron Duffett: https://www.bulbapp.com/AaronD98

Paige Johnson: https://www.bulbapp.com/Paige-johnson

Imogen Mulvenna: https://www.bulbapp.com/ImogenMulvenna

Bethany Clay: https://www.bulbapp.com/isolationoutdoors

Taya Jarman: https://www.bulbapp.com/tayajarman98

Toby Inchbald: https://www.bulbapp.com/TobyInchbald

Tom Radcliffe: https://www.bulbapp.com/tomradcliffe98

 

 

Professor Brian Richards, Emeritus Professor of Education, said:

I have spent several happy hours browsing the content. I usually go to the exhibition but the online virtual version has the advantage of being more permanent and you can dip in, take your time, reflect and go back for another look and think. Please congratulate the students on a particularly thought-provoking and inspirational collection. I wish I had been taught by people like them when I was at school in the 1960s—it was a rather uninspiring experience!”

The website production took over 6 weeks and throughout the entire process, students were able to dip in and out of each other’s websites, add in constructive comments to make suggestions, acknowledge some outstanding moments and, importantly, appropriate good DIY art ideas in order to learn from one another.

Imogen, a Y3 student, said:

“I actually really liked doing the website and I didn’t find any difficulty in it. I’d chat with Aaron like we were digital buddies rather than studio bay buddies! We all used messenger to make comments – it was buzzing.”

The developing process included the group as a whole attending live artists’ sessions and exhibition tours of galleries around the world. This added a further international layer to the art curriculum by enjoying global ventures on virtual tours and live artists performances in: Hong Kong, New York, Barcelona, South Africa and Sydney. It also fuelled the students’ ideas for their own websites. These were shared with all staff and students at the IoE and across the wider university, including the IoE Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, helping to raise the profile of the London Road studios as a lively hub of art activity – even remotely!

Emily Yearsley, Lecturer in Primary Art Education, said:

“Initially, both students and tutors were disappointed at the prospect of losing out on the exhilaration of the final exhibition but there is no doubt, the impact of what was produced and the process that was undertaken has enriched practice in a profound, thoughtful and reflective way.”

Molly, Y3 student, said:

“I think in the studio, I work with loads of things and then play around, but actually weirdly, I think the ideas I had for this term’s work were possibly stronger because I had more time to think before I did, so there was a lot of more intention and personal input.”

As a result of building on the successful experience of delivering small practical art activities online, Suzy Tutchell has been delivering weekly online art drop-in sessions for Alana House clients (Reading-based women’s community project); it is hoped this will continue throughout the summer and into the autumn term as she seeks a funding source to create a community project with student support and involvement.

Going forward, the adapted online portfolio model has set a new premise for visual/sound assignment work in the future; Y2 art and music students will collaborate over the next academic year to produce a Y2 creative arts digital platform as part of their specialisms in school.

2020 University Teaching Fellowship winners

The Fellowship is a prestigious award for staff who demonstrate individual excellence and dedication to the development of teaching and learning within the University and beyond.  The application process was extremely competitive again this year, and many of the applications put forward were of an exceptionally high quality. We would like to thank everyone who took the time to apply.

The winners of the 2019/20 University Teaching Fellowship scheme are:

Will Bailey-Watson (Institute of Education) – The Panel welcomed Will’s creative approach and his willingness to take risks to provide positive learning experiences. It also commended his clear passion for teaching and his commitment to inclusive practice and to providing equality of opportunity. The Panel recognised the broad impact of Will’s work, including the ‘Meanwhile, Elsewhere’ website, at a School level, local level (partnership schools) and national level.

Dr Alana James (School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences) – The Panel was impressed by Alana’s clear passion for her subject area and her strong philosophy of empowering and supporting students through a participatory approach. The Panel recognised the positive impact of Alana’s work on student learning/outcomes and the student experience within her School and more widely at institution-level, and her impact in raising the profile of T&L at both a local and a broader level (across the University and on a national platform).

Dr Allán Laville (School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, Dean for Diversity and Inclusion) – The UTFS Selection Panel welcomed Allán’s commitment to providing positive learning experiences for all students with a strong focus on diversity and inclusion, and the engaging personal narrative that underpinned his application around the development of his role, impact and reach. The Panel recognised the wide reach of Allán’s practice and his dissemination work within and beyond the University.

Adrian Aronsson-Storrier (School of Law) – The Panel was impressed by Adrian’s strong, student-centred approach to teaching innovations, including his use of audio/lecture capture to support students; his commitment to equality of opportunity; and his positive contributions to the T&L agenda and community. This includes supporting staff within his School to embed good practice in T&L and contributing to T&L at a broader level in support of institutional agendas.

The winners’ achievements will be recognised formally at a Celebrating Teaching & Learning Success event later this year. 

Please join us in congratulating this year’s winners!    

About the scheme

The University Teaching Fellowship scheme is hosted annually by the Centre for Quality Support and Development. It aims to recognise and reward excellence in teaching and the support of student learning, to raise the status of teaching in the University as a scholarly activity, and to support staff to develop further in the area of teaching and learning.

To find out more, please visit the University Teaching Fellowship scheme information page.

Carol Fuller appointed Head of IoE

Carol Fuller has been appointed the new Head of the Institute of Education (IoE). She will take up her new role on 1 September 2020, replacing Professor Cathy Tissot who is stepping down from the role after six years.

A Professor of the Sociology of Education, Carol is the Research Division Lead for the IoE. Her research focuses on social justice, specifically concerned with issues of gender and socio-economic status and with a particular emphasis on identity construction, self-efficacy, resilience and aspirations.

Carol grew up in the local area of Whitley and started university education at the age of 32, after taking an Access to Higher Education course at college. She has since obtained a master’s degree and a PhD in Sociology – and is now responsible for providing supervision to doctoral students as well as contributing to research methods teaching across all programmes at the IoE.

In 2019, her ‘Marvellous Mums, Marvellous Me’ programme was shortlisted for the Research Impact and Engagement Awards and subsequently won in 2020. The programme supports local, less socially advantaged women, many of whom have been out of work for some time. It helps these women develop more fulfilling lives for themselves and their families by building their confidence and self-esteem.

Announcing her appointment, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Planning & Resource) Mark Fellowes said, “I am delighted that Carol Fuller is taking on the role of the Head of Institute of Education. Her lived experiences reflect the transformative power of education, and her work with the local community show the difference that a caring and engaged University can make. I look forward to working with Carol and supporting her vision for the Institute of Education.

I would also like to thank Cathy Tissot for everything she has done for the Institute of Education during the last five years. She has calmly and successfully steered the Institute through some challenging times – strengthening its reputation for training caring, reflective and profession educational practitioners.”

Carol Fuller said, “I am thrilled that the University of Reading has entrusted me with this important role and look forward to this next chapter of my career. Working at University of Reading has taught me that anything really is possible; I am proud to work where I do and I am proud to work in the Institute of Education, with such a fabulous team of colleagues.”

The IoE trains over 450 Early Years, Primary, Secondary teachers and practitioners every year, working closely with local schools and early years settings. Many of those who train with the IoE stay on in the area and work in these schools and settings.

Its research addresses the overarching aim of improved education and learning as a route to enhanced self-efficacy, economic well-being and life chances. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework assessment, 80% of IoE’s research was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent with a global impact on educational policy and practice.

Professor Cathy Tissot

Cathy Tissot is a Professor of Education and was appoint the Head of Institute of Education in 2015.

She came to the Institute of Education, in early 2008 as a senior lecturer to teach primarily on courses on special educational needs. In 2009, she worked with the local authorities in Berkshire to create the University’s Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) accreditation programme. She is still active in teaching this course and others on special needs.

She started a lifelong research interest in autism spectrum disorders through studying for her doctorate at Brunel University which explored the factors that determine appropriate educational provision for children with autism spectrum disorders. Her research focuses on adolescence and the challenges that puberty brings to this group of students, as well as the staff that support students with disabilities in schools.

Tips plus sources of support and ideas for your children

 

Below you’ll find some tips compiled by IoE staff to help children stay engaged during COVID-19. 

Generally: 

  • Take your time to work out what works for you. Something that works well for one family or child, e.g. creating a timetable so that there is a clear structure for the day, might cause pressure and stress for another.
  • It’s also important to recognise anything that you have achieved together. Try not to worry about or compare with what other children seem to be doing or what they might have got done in a typical school day. Learning takes place in small, uneven steps over long periods of time and isn’t always immediately obvious!
  • Try to focus on what the child CAN do. If they see how the newly introduced material links with what they already know they will find it easier to learn, and what they learn will be more readily recalled.

Language learning:

Mathematics: 

  • Cooking could be used to teach maths by writing a recipe/ measuring out ingredients. 
  • Board games such as snakes and ladders and monopoly are all good for developing mathematical thinking. 
  • Creating subject specific questions and placing them around the house as a maths trail could work well too  e.g. if a child has been learning multiplication facts, they can then develop a trail around the house with clues and questions. This not only consolidates their learning but also develops problem solving! 
  • You could also use Lego to develop volume, area and perimeter. 
  • Using art can also be a good way to think about mathematics as well- e.g using geometry to create shapes through pictures and identify those shapes.  This can be linked with nature- if there is access to a garden. 
  • Questions about time linked with simple fractions could work for young pupils. Older pupils could be asked to look at journey times online and work these out i.e ask them to work out how to get from Reading to Edinburgh in the least costly and most timely way. 
  • Time conversions – asking what time will it be in another country if it’s 10:00 here, same as money conversions can help with arithmetic. 
  • For learning how to multiply, see if they can suggest more than one way to think about multiplying e.g. five threes, or three fives, or 3+3+3+3+3 or a rectangle with a 3cm side and a 5cm side etc. 

Further sources:

Women in Higher Education Conference 2020 round up by Dr Karen Jones

 

Dr Karen Jones, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Management, Institute of Education, University of Reading recently attended the Advance Higher Education (HE):  Women in HE Conference 2020 Conditions for change –how can we accelerate change that tackles the treatment and inclusion of women?

Held in London on 23 January 2020, it marked the first Women in Higher Education Conference held by Advance HE.  The conference brought together academics from a wide range of disciplines and professional roles, who share an interest in addressing the deficit of women in senior leadership, both within the academy and beyond. In this blog post Dr Karen Jones tells us about the key messages from the event.

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The conference began with statistical reminder of disparities in the gender composition of UK university students and the professorial staff who teach them. Data from 2017-18 (Advance HE, 2019) shows the student population comprised of 43% males and 57% females, while the gender breakdown of postgraduate research students was 51.4% males and 48.6% females (Advance HE, 2019). Clearly this illustrates a healthy proportion of female students are participating in UK higher education. By comparison, in the same year, 74.5% of professors were male and only 25.5% female. Intersectional analysis of UK professors by gender and BAME/white identity reveals just 6.7% of professors were BAME males and 2.1 BAME females.

 

Of course, the picture is not all doom and gloom. As Alison Johns, CEO Advance HE, pointed out – we must celebrate the achievements of women like Baroness Valerie Amos, the first Black female Vice Chancellor in the UK and Professor Dame Janet Beer, the first female president of Universities UK, and Professor Louise Richardson, the first female Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford. Still, while many women are making it to the top echelons of leadership in higher education and many other sectors, Advance HE estimates that at the current rate it will be 170 years before parity for women is achieved across the world. This set the scene for some lively debates in the sessions that followed.

 

One topic of debate was the gender pay gap and occupational segregation. Although the gender pay gap has narrowed across the sector, figures for 2017-18 for all university staff show the mean pay of men was £43,348 compared to just £36,128 for women. This equates to a 16.7% mean gender pay gap. Occupational segregation is a key explanatory factor for this pay gap, because a higher proportion of female staff in higher education occupy lower paid roles such as administrative occupations (80%), cleaning and catering (60%), and a higher proportion of males occupy better paid roles. For instance, males are 74% professors, 67% academic heads, 69% heads of school/faculty and 64% vice chancellors.

 

Other critical issues debated by delegates at the conference include the poor value given to women’s work, unconscious bias, discrimination and sexual harassment.

 

Key messages from the conference, supported by research and statistics from Advance HE (2019), act as a call for action in the sector:

 

  1. There is evidence that women do have an appetite for leadership. Indeed, 86% of women take on roles in higher education that require them to have influence over others, but at the same time no authority. In consequence, women who go beyond the requirements of the role risk losing recognition.

 

  1. Many women are confident that they possess the relevant leadership skills, but greater support needs be provided to help women implement their skills in a political workplace.

 

  1. Too often promotion and development opportunities are opaque and poorly run. More needs to be done to create transparent and fair processes for career advancement.

 

In the meantime, real and perceived barriers persist for women seeking advancement in UK higher education.

Read more about these key messages from the conference here:

Equality in HE statistical report 2019: www.advance-he.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/equality-higher-education-statistical-report-2019

Statistics on pay equality in HE and links to former ECU resources: www.advance-he.ac.uk/guidance/equality-diversity-and-inclusion/employment-and-careers/equal-pay

UCEA and new JNCHES resources on the gender pay gap and pay equality in HE: www.ucea.ac.uk/library/publications/Taking-action-Tackling-the-gender-pay-gap-in-higher-education-institutions/ 

Dr Rebecca Berkley on training the Musician in the Classroom

 

Dr Rebecca Berkley is a Lecturer in Music Education at the Institute of Education, University of Reading. She is the Subject Convenor for the BA in Primary Education (QTS) with Music Specialism, Deputy Director for the MA in Education and is also the Music Education Pathway convenor.

Rebecca’s main focus is to ensure trainee teachers at the University of Reading develop their expertise as teachers by being expert musicians in their classroom.

Read Rebecca’s reflections on musicianship and leadership and why this is applied to teaching at the University of Reading.

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Every music teacher inspires children by leading practical music making in their classroom. They use their musicianship skills every day. Musicianship training is at the core of all the music education provision we offer in the IoE, and in Music at Reading’s choral and instrumental ensembles. Musicianship starts by training the musical ear through games and practical activities, linking movement, singing and instrumental performance with a deep understanding of musical sound as it is represented in music notation. It is a really inclusive way of teaching music, enabling all learners from 0100 to develop strong musical skills to support them in their lifelong music education.

A fundamental part of our teacher training programme for primary and secondary music teachers at the IoE is teaching them the skills of classroom musicianship and leadership. We believe that every music teacher should be an expert musician in their classroom, using their skills of singing, playing, improvising, composing and directing in every lesson to inspire their students through creative work.

Recently, I was delighted to hear from a year 2 Music specialist on the BA in Primary Education (QTS) that she had taught a series of successful music lessons on placement in the summer term built around singing and rhythm improvisation which the children really enjoyed. Her mentor, who was not a music specialist, described the way she led the children in part singing as being ‘like a magic trick.’ The mentor was so impressed by the student’s leadership that she asked the student to show her how to do the same kind of teaching, and also asked for the student to observe her and give some feedback.

Music teachers trained at the University of Reading have a deservedly strong reputation for having solid practical skills as musical leaders, as a result of this approach in our Initial teacher Education, and on our Masters programme.

For more information in about teacher training in Music at the University of Reading, take a look at our Music Secondary PGCE, BA in Primary Education (QTS) with Music Specialism and MA in Music

Education. To join any Music at Reading ensemble and find out about our events and concerts, please go to the website (https://www.reading.ac.uk/music/) or follow us on social media

@UniRdg_Music.

drumkit in purple lighting